Chinese Box Office Could Usurp Hollywood as the Most Dominant Film Market
2018 could be the year that China overtakes Hollywood as the most important film market, an event that some may say has been a long time coming. When Chinese currency is converted to U.S. dollars with a conservative exchange rate, it becomes apparent that China’s box office revenue for the first quarter of 2018 hit $3.17 billion, while theaters in North America grossed $2.85 billion. The Chinese government and ComScore are predicting a 15-20 percent increase in film sales in China but a 2 percent decline for North America.
“The importance of China as a movie market cannot be overstated,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore, to Variety. Popular domestic titles such as Detective Chinatown 2, which was the third highest grossing film ever at the Chinese box office as of March 1, Operation Red Sea, and Monster Hunt, contribute to the success of the Chinese film market.
U.S. titles such as Black Panther and Ready Player One also rely on the Chinese market to bolster their overall profits. Black Panther, for example, grossed over $105,062,459 in China, the most of any international market it was sent to and 16 percent of its total foreign gross of $646,850,070.
However, this dependency may have to change, as Chinese-language films are beginning to outperform American imports at the Chinese box office. Hollywood film revenue in China is down by 24 percent this year, said box-office analyst Rance Pow, CEO of consultancy Artisan Gateway. In contrast, the North American box office is having a very successful year, with summer ticket sales up by 14 percent.
By this time last year, American imports had made $2.17 billion in China, but the gross revenue of American films in the market so far this year is down to $1.64 billion. On the other hand, revenue of Chinese films in China has increased 46.7 percent since 2017, going from $2.92 billion to $4.28 billion. The Hollywood Reporter credits the success of home-grown titles as the reason why China’s box office revenue has risen.